Monthly Archives: March 2010

Updates on the Twitter Situation

[tweetmeme]I’ve been on Twitter for nearly three years under the alias of @auer1816 (it was my email handle in college and I use it for a lot of social media accounts just out of habit). The Twitter account has been a mixture of personal and blog related items and I’ve used it anywhere from several times per hour to only a few times per week. Up to this point, that account has been associated with Epic Edits.

I figured it was time for a change and I wanted to separate my personal stuff with the photography blogging stuff. So I went ahead and made a new account for Epic Edits.

This account will post blog updates, links to photography articles around the web, photography related news items, etc. I’ll also use this account to follow other photography bloggers and hardcore link-sharers so I can keep up with the current events a little better. So if you want those types of Twitter updates, go ahead and follow @epicedits.

My personal account will be used to post random thoughts, updates on my photography-related doings, and my daily out-and-about stuff. On this account, I’ll be following personal friends and other photographers that have interesting things to say. If you’re into that kind of stuff, follow @auer1816.

I also have a joint account for FeelingNegative.com that we use to post site updates, film related links, film news, etc. Like the Epic Edits account, we’ll be following other film photography bloggers and hardcore link-sharers so we can see what’s happening out there. If you’re into that sort of thing, follow @feelingnegative.

And since I did it, feel free to share your own Twitter account(s) in the comments below… and maybe tell us what you Tweet about most of the time.

Fifteen Fabulous Fantasy Fotos from Flickr

[tweetmeme]Fantasy, fiction, surreal, conceptual, composite, Photoshop… call them what you will. I call them artistic and creative.

Photography in itself is artistic and creative, but using a photo (or photos) for a derivative work is no less appealing to me. I’m actually envious of people who can combine images or add to photos and create something completely new — I can’t do it… and I probably never will.

Jerry Uelsmann has been a favorite of mine for a long time because of his ability to combine images and produce fantastic works of art (and he does it old school — none of that digital stuff). If you’ve never seen his work, go look NOW.

Here are a few others kicking around Flickr, trying their hand at this type of thing. Great stuff in my opinion, and all very different styles and techniques.


Creative Commons License photo credit: Rayani Melo

Easy Going
Creative Commons License photo credit: h.koppdelaney

United Colors
Creative Commons License photo credit: kaneda99

TicTac
Creative Commons License photo credit: movimente

147 of 365 - just dandy
Creative Commons License photo credit: paul+photos=moody

November 15th 2008 - The Rope May Not Be Tight, But At Least It's Wide
Creative Commons License photo credit: Stephen Poff

Beach guardian
Creative Commons License photo credit: neeZhom

食べたい、食べたい...
Creative Commons License photo credit: pulpmojo

She's So Small, She's Cute!
Creative Commons License photo credit: Poe Tatum

Lunar Fantasy
Creative Commons License photo credit: Bill Gracey

elec'trick' Paint
Creative Commons License photo credit: ViaMoi

chim chim cheree...
Creative Commons License photo credit: Mara ~earth light~

Free your crows
Creative Commons License photo credit: Desirée Delgado

model actress fashion x ray hand photojournalism war photography and just plain strange dark evil unusual negative sandwich composite controversial dark sexy and completely new!
Creative Commons License photo credit: Zoriah


Creative Commons License photo credit: !borghetti

[tweetmeme]… oh wait, that last one isn’t a fantasy — you thought it was though, didn’t ya? I’d freak out if I caught something like that by chance.

So what do you guys think? Are you into this kind of stuff too, or are you a “purist”? Anybody have some examples of their own or links to other images like this that you find compelling? Let’s see them in the comments!

Link Roundup 03-13-2010

On the last roundup, I asked if we should kill the feature and just post single news-worthy items as they come in. We had a mixed response, and I’m still finding a middle ground I can manage to keep up with. So I posted a few in the news section of the site and I’m posting the remainder here. I did notice that the single posts had many more clicks to the source than these roundups do, and I even got an email from one of the featured bloggers making note of this.

So I think (for now) I’ll keep doing the roundups on a bi-weekly basis, but I’ll also be tossing out a few news-worthy items throughout the week when I find them. I don’t want to flood the posting schedule with a bunch of link posts, but I’d also like to highlight the really good stuff in a more timely manner. So here’s the “rest of the best” that I didn’t get around to featuring these last two weeks.

Building a Large Format Pinhole Camera

Over at FeelingNegative.com, we’ve started a DIY Large Format Camera project and our first step was to make a pinhole camera that exposes paper negatives.

I spent last weekend building 3 different cameras for myself and with the kids, and we all took a few shots and made prints. The cameras turned out good and the photos aren’t bad either.

If you’re not already following the project and you’re interested in trying this type of thing, head over there and see how I made my first pinhole camera (it’s a step-by-step DIY kind of thing).

[UPDATE 04-12-2010] You can also view a video I put together on developing paper negatives from these types of cameras.

Adorama Weekly Specials

I get a listing of weekly specials from Adorama each week, but I’ve never posted them for some reason. Note that these are affiliate links (which help support this site), and I’m not saying anything about these items other than the fact that they’re on sale this week. Do your own research and purchase responsibly.

Also, is this type of “weekly specials” post useful for any of you? I’m not generally a bargain hunter, but I know some of you might be!

Tamron 55-200mm f/4.0-5.6 DI-II LD Macro Ultra Compact Auto Focus Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon EOS Digital SLRs – USA Warranty
Save $14.96
Regular Price $164.95
Sale Price $149.99

Pacific Image PrimeFilm 3600U, 35mm Film Scanner with 3600dpi, USB Interface
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Sale Price $99.95
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Samsung DualView TL220 12.2 MP Digital Point & Shoot Camera with 27mm Wide Angle Lens, 4.6x Optical Zoom, 3″ LCD Screen, Blue
Sale Price $224.95
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Samsung DualView TL220 12.2 MP Digital Point & Shoot Camera with 27mm Wide Angle Lens, 4.6x Optical Zoom, 3″ LCD Screen, Red
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Westinghouse DPF-0804 8″ Digital Frame, 4:3 Aspect, 800×600 Resolution, 128MB Internal Memory, with One Ebony and One Wood Grain Frame
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Olympus FE-4000 12MP Digital Camera, 4x Optical Zoom, 4x Digital Zoom, 2.7″ LCD Screen – Magenta
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Sale Price $99.95
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(these are affiliate links — they cost you nothing extra, and help provide funding for this website)

Tips for Starting a New Photography Blog

Rocket Launch Sequence
Creative Commons License photo credit: Zoramite

Blogging about photography and photo blogging are great ways to improve yourself as a photographer, give back to the community, make new friends and contacts, and express yourself. Not every photographer is interested in starting a blog, but I’m sure there are a few of you out there.

[tweetmeme]Epic Edits is getting to be an “old man” in the blogosphere (over 3 years running!), but I’ve recently launched a new blog (FeelingNegative.com) and I was reminded of all the things that new bloggers have to deal with. As I prepared this new blog for entry into the Web, I found myself making decisions based on my experience here at Epic Edits. Some of these decisions are not so obvious to folks with no prior blogging experience, so I’ve written down a few thoughts to consider if you’re planning to start a photography blog or photo blog.

HAVE A CONCEPT

Start 3 months before launch.

  • Identify some specific audience that you can relate to.
  • Find untapped opportunities and niches.
  • Blog about what you know and shoot.
  • Blog about what you want to learn.

That last point is a big deal. Teaching others about photography or displaying your work to a growing audience will force you to learn and grow at an accelerated rate.

PLAN PROFUSELY

Day 41:What's on your mind?
Creative Commons License photo credit: L S G

Start 2.5 months before launch.

  • Identify your overall site message or theme.
  • Think of possible site names that fit your theme.
  • Choose a blogging platform: WordPress.org, WordPress.com, Drupal, Blogger, etc.
  • Look for possible themes and styles (but don’t pick one yet).
  • Determine a posting frequency that you can keep up with.

Again, the last point is important. Blogging takes a lot of time on a regular schedule, so don’t assume that you can hit 3 posts per day with 1 hour of work. Just be realistic.

OUTLINE THE STRUCTURE

Start 2 months before launch.

  • Lay out 3-5 main topics/genres (should be vastly unique).
  • Use sub-topics to further separate content.
  • List several theoretical post topics/titles for each category.
  • Evaluate the outline and refine the structure.

Getting the site structure is key — you don’t want to be reorganizing a bunch of posts or photos a year down the road because you failed to plan ahead. Of course, leave yourself room to expand the categories and sub-categories.

TECHNICAL STUFF

Start 1.5 months before launch.

  • Set up your platform and theme.
  • Find and install useful plugins and widgets (depending on platform).
  • Do some customization… graphics, colors, etc.

If you’re not familiar with blogging platforms, this might take some time to figure out. In that case, keep it simple and choose a platform that works for you. Otherwise, use what you know!

WRITE, WRITE, WRITE

Start 1 month before launch.

  • Write 2-3 articles for each main category (so about 10 total).
  • Proof, edit, and improve your articles.
  • Test your platform, theme, and plugins with the articles you’ve written.

After you write the articles, check out your site and make sure things are displaying correctly and linking up the way they should. You should be just about finished tweaking the site at this point.

START THE SOCIAL ENGINES

BMX Engine
Creative Commons License photo credit: chilsta

Start .5 months before launch.

  • Get on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, etc. Find 2 or 3 that you like.
  • Leave out site links if you want to launch the site on a specific date.
  • Connect with other bloggers and photographers in your niche.
  • Invite a few friends to get the site going on launch date.

Social media can be a great source for spreading the word, but use these communities as a sincere participant — pure self-promo is considered spamming in many circles.

PRE-LAUNCH ANNOUNCEMENT

Start 1 week before launch.

  • Post 5+ of your pre-written articles, pull remaining into draft for post-launch.
  • Make the site viewable to the public (if you were using an “under construction” plugin).
  • Contact friends and fellow bloggers for a preview (and tell them the launch date).
  • Take a break! You’ve put in a bunch of work, so take a breather before things kick off.

If you’ve done your homework and spent the time to make a few contacts in the blogospere, you should have a few friends willing to give a hand with the launch party. Just don’t push too hard for promotion and try to connect with other bloggers and photographers on your level. The “big dogs” get a lot of “check out my new site” emails every day, so don’t expect them to act on every single one (they’re not being rude, they’re just trying to keep up with their own affairs).

LAUNCH ANNOUNCEMENT

This is the big day!

  • Make it official and mention your new baby every chance you get!
  • Remind the previewers that today is the big day for you.
  • Watch for comments and stats — this is the exciting part of early blogging, so enjoy it.

Site launches are always different than what you expect, so don’t expect anything and just enjoy the ride. You might get a flood of visitors and you might get a dozen. Just stick with the plan and the word will get out eventually as long as you have something interesting to say or show.

POST-LAUNCH

Weeks after launch.

  • Publish on pre-set schedule and try to stick with it.
  • Seek promo opportunities: guest blogging, links in social profiles, etc.
  • Announce your social extensions on the blog so new visitors can connect with you.
  • Accept feedback on your work and make an effort to improve your blog.
  • Refine your schedule, focus, and intent. Keep an open mind to change.

It can take months to grow into a new blog, so don’t give up after two weeks if you don’t have 5,000 visitors and 50 comments per day. Your blog will grow at a rate proportional to the effort you put into it, but even the best bloggers started at the bottom and worked their way up.

FIND YOUR GROOVE

Months after launch.

  • Split your time between writing, interacting, and promoting.
  • Reach out to other niche bloggers with links and mentions from your site.
  • Give, give, give… and take very little. Blogging is about giving, not taking.
  • Re-evaluate the plan frequently, make sure you’re on track with your goals and ambitions.

Blogging is like playing the stock market — you have your ups and downs. Sometimes it’s your fault, sometimes it’s just how things go. Get into a groove and find your place among the community. Get to know your readers and other bloggers in your niche.

HAVE FUN WITH IT

Blogging and photo-blogging is a rewarding experience if you have the right attitude. Give it some time, share your knowledge and your artwork, participate, build the community, and have fun with it.

Anybody out there thinking of starting up a new photography blog, photo blog, or personal blog? How about the new bloggers on the block? Where are you guys? Throw out some links in the comments if you just started a blog within the last few months. And for you seasoned bloggers, what other tips do you have for starting a blog?

40 Outstanding Examples of Conceptual Photography

The Photo Argus has a great collection of conceptual photos… but what are conceptual photos you ask?

Conceptual photography essentially is the photographer trying to convey a message or “concept”. Usually this message is conveyed through some abstract symbolism which can be interpreted by the viewer. Even though most photographers have a specific meaning they are trying to get across, usually the image can be interpreted in many different ways.

So basically they’re really cool photos with a deeper meaning that can be interpreted in many ways. Groovy, man… but seriously, check these things out. A wonderful collection of art.

Three Ways to Control Depth of Field

My Sunshine

Depth of field (DOF) refers to the amount of a scene in the “sharp” range. Shallow DOF is typically characterized by heavily blurred backgrounds that you might see in outdoor portraits. Deep focus (opposite of shallow DOF) is typically characterized by tack sharp landscapes with no visible blur.

The most widely accepted method for controlling DOF is aperture, or f-number. This is certainly a feasible and convenient way to control DOF, but there are other factors at play. Just like exposure is controlled by three factors (ISO, shutter speed, and aperture), DOF is controlled by three main factors. Let’s take a look at these three factors and how you can use them to your advantage.

[tweetmeme]The examples shown below were taken on a 1.5x crop factor dSLR and the stated focal lengths are actual focal lengths of the lens rather than a full-frame equivalent.

F-NUMBER

The f-number is probably the most widely known and used method of controlling DOF. Most intermediate/advanced cameras have “aperture priority” which allows you you set the f-number. If you’ve toyed with this mode on your camera, you probably found that lower numbers result in a narrow depth of field (blurry background), while higher numbers result in a wide depth of field (everything in focus).

F-NUMBER ⇓ == DOF ⇓

F-NUMBER ⇑ == DOF ⇑

cropped version:

TRY THIS: With a “normal lens” (40-80mm range), find a subject about 5-10 feet away from you and make sure there’s some background object(s) in view behind it. Use your aperture priority and set the lowest f-number you can, and take a shot focused on the main subject. Now stay in the same spot and use the same focal length, but set the highest f-number you can (without bringing your shutter speed too low), and take another shot focused on the main subject. When you compare the two, the main subject should be in focus for both, but you’ll see a difference in the background blur or the amount of focus on objects in the near distance.

SUBJECT DISTANCE

Another way to control depth of field is to change your distance from the subject in focus. If you’ve ever shot macro, you know that the DOF is extremely narrow for 1:1 magnification. This is because you’re so close the subject. On the other hand, if you’ve shot landscapes you’ll know that it doesn’t take much stopping down of the aperture to get everything in the distance nice and sharp. This is because you’re so far from the subject.

DISTANCE ⇓ == DOF ⇓

DISTANCE ⇑ == DOF ⇑

cropped version:

TRY THIS: With a “normal lens” (40-80mm range), set your aperture to a value around f/4 or f/8. Again, find a subject that has some background element in view. Now get as close as your autofocus will allow you and take a shot. Keep the same focal length and the same f-number, but back up about 5-10 feet. Focus on the subject again and take a second shot. When you compare the two, you should see a difference in the depth of field by the amount of background blur.

FOCAL LENGTH

The last factor in your control for DOF is the focal length of the lens you decide to use. Telephoto lenses have a shallow depth of field as compared to their wide angle counterparts. Anybody out there have a sub-20mm lens? It’s pretty hard to get background blur, right? Any super-telephoto shooters out there? Just the opposite.

FOCAL LENGTH ⇓ == DOF ⇑

FOCAL LENGTH ⇑ == DOF ⇓

cropped version:

TRY THIS: Use a zoom lens that reaches from wide angle to telephoto (something like an 18-200, 28-135, etc.) or use two lenses (wide angle and telephoto). Again, find a subject that has some background element in view. Position yourself approximately 5-10 feet from the subject and set your aperture in the low-mid range (f/4-8, but make sure to find something that can be used for both lenses). Take the first shot with the wide angle lens or at the shorter focal length of the zoom lens. Now, hold your position and your f-number, and switch to the telephoto or use the longer focal length of the zoom lens and take the same shot with focus on the same subject. You should see a wider depth of field with the shorter focal length.

PUTTING IT INTO PERSPECTIVE

All this technical stuff is fine and dandy, but how does it translate to real world photography? The answer depends on what you’re shooting with and what you’re shooting at.

If you have a compact camera with no manual controls and you want a shallow DOF (say, for portraits)… zoom in all the way, get as close to your subject as possible (still preserving a decent composition), and take the shot. Also, less light will force the camera to use a smaller f-number and decrease the DOF. If you want a wide DOF (say, for landscapes)… zoom out all the way, get far away from your subject, and take the shot. Also, more light will force the camera to use a higher f-number and increase the DOF.

On the other hand, if you have a dSLR with manual controls and you want a shallow DOF… use aperture priority, set your f-number low (f/2.8-), get close to your subject, and/or use longer lenses. If you want a wide DOF… set your f-number high (f/16+), step back from your subject, and/or use wide lenses.

If you want to do some theoretical calculations on this topic, check out this handy Depth of Field Calculator. You just choose your camera, focal length, f-number, and subject distance. The calculator outputs your DOF, hyperfocal distance, and circle of confusion.

Links from around the web:

Back to Basics – Depth Of Field
Aperture: How It Affects Your Photography & Why You Should Care
Photography 101.5 – Aperture
HowTo: Use The Depth-Of-Field Preview On Your Camera

ANY OTHER TIPS?

How do you prefer to control your DOF? Any SLR shooters out there have a set of numbers that work well for narrow and wide DOF? How about some good examples of DOF in either extreme? We’d love to see ‘em!

Also — any questions on this stuff? I might be jumping over a few concepts, so let me know if anything doesn’t make sense.

PhotoDump 03-08-2010

More great stuff from the Epic Edits Flickr Pool! This selection of photos is from those entered in the pool between 02/23/2010 and 03/08/2010.

Portrait of the Bathroom by nathanielperalesBuried. {In the sand of time} by Devansh <<Refreshed after the first Royal Bath >>solitude by ana.gr by | GW |Team Great Britain by cabbitcv@st by Lucas BernalWaiting by DRG Photography | Calgary AB40s Glamour Shoot by neilcreekchair by xgrayTalisker Bay by thefatcat44 (Doug Chinnery)fog-3 by inipixIntersected landscape by sramses177KEW2010_0226_016 by fotokewArchitectural Artifacts :: Slides by Tasha {Redwall Photo}Practice Makes Perfect by Damien FrancoSophia by eadamsphotoDual by keithpytTired / Fatigué by pawoli*???? by 36rokkoBrunswick by Chris NixonKitchen Session by mathewm

Aperture: How It Affects Your Photography & Why You Should Care

The Discerning Photographer posted a good article dealing with aperture from a practical standpoint. This is a subject that tends to be more technical during discussion, so it’s nice to see a different approach.

You’ll still need to have a basic grasp of f-numbers, but the article is really good about explaining the effects of changing aperture. The two main topics beyond the basics are depth of field and exposure, and the article covers these nicely.